Alpha keto acids are deaminated forms of amino acids that have received significant attention as feed and food additives in the agriculture and medical industries. To date, their production has been commonly performed at shake-flask scale with low product concentrations. In this study, production of phenylpyruvic acid (PPA), which is the alpha keto acid of phenylalanine was investigated. First, various microorganisms were screened to select the most efficient producer. Thereafter, growth parameters (temperature, pH, and aeration) were optimized in bench scale bioreactors to maximize both PPA and biomass concentration in bench scale bioreactors, using response surface methodology. Among the four different microorganisms evaluated, Proteus vulgaris was the most productive strain for PPA production. Optimum temperature, pH, and aeration conditions were determined as 34.5°C, 5.12, and 0.5 vvm for PPA production, whereas 36.9°C, pH 6.87, and 0.96 vvm for the biomass production. Under these optimum conditions, PPA concentration was enhanced to 1,054 mg/L, which was almost three times higher than shake-flask fermentation concentrations. Moreover, P. vulgaris biomass was produced at 3.25 g/L under optimum conditions. Overall, this study demonstrated that optimization of growth parameters improved PPA production in 1-L working volume bench-scale bioreactors compared to previous studies in the literature and was a first step to scale up the production to industrial production.
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